Routt County investigation yields wildlife charges

Michigan man accused of threatening officers

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— A 41-year-old Michigan man is accused of threatening undercover wildlife officers with an air rifle, threatening to scalp one of them with a knife and committing five misdemeanors related to wildlife crimes in southern Routt County over a several-year period.

Travis Thorson is scheduled to be arraigned in Routt County Court at 1 p.m. Thursday. The Routt County District Attorney’s Office has filed three felony menacing charges and a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge against Thorson related to incidents that officers say occurred Aug. 29 near the King Creek trailhead south of Routt County Road 5.

The five misdemeanor charges related to wildlife were filed just last month after a joint investigation between the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Steamboat attorney Jeffery L. Weeden is representing Thorson and said Friday he still was in the process of collecting documentation related to the case.

“Mr. Thorson maintains his innocence,” Weeden said.

According to WDIV-TV in Detroit, Thorson, his brother Ole Thorson, 35, father Jerome Thorson, 64, and a man named Todd Osier, 41, have been charged with wildlife-related crimes in Michigan. The Thorsons are from Prescott, Mich., while Osier is from Standish, Mich.

In addition to the Michigan charges, the news station reported the Thorsons, Osier and three accomplices face a total of 48 charges related to the killing and possession of several trophy-class elk, black bears and bobcats over a several-year period in the King Mountain area of Routt County.

Of the named men, only Travis Thorson formally has been charged in Routt County, according to court records.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras would not provide specifics about the allegations in Colorado because the men have not been arraigned. But he said the joint investigation uncovered very serious wildlife violations.

In Colorado, Travis Thorson has been charged with misdemeanors involving elk, according to documents. The charges are two counts of illegal possession of wildlife and two counts of aggravated illegal possession of wildlife related to trophy elk. The other charge is hunting big game without a license.

An arrest warrant affidavit filed with the court outlines the accusations related to the felony menacing charges against Thorson. It states two wildlife officers were undercover when they camped near Thorson’s group for five days in the King Mountain area on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

According to the affidavit, one of the officers was visiting Thorson’s tent after Thorson had been drinking alcohol for several hours. Thorson waved around a 4.5-inch knife and told the wildlife officer he was going to scalp him and the other undercover officer, the affidavit states. About 10 minutes later, Thorson pointed an air rifle at an officer after saying he was going to shoot the officer in the groin, the affidavit state. Thorson pointed the air rifle at the other officer, as well, and then fired it twice at a log, the affidavit states.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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